Enneagram vs. CliftonStrengths: Which Tool is Best at Unlocking Your Potential?

Updated: June 10, 2024
7 minutes read
There are a dozen tools to help you advance on your journey to personal growth. Two tools stand out: the Enneagram and the CliftonStrengths assessment. Both offer valuable insights into individual traits and behaviors, guiding individuals on their journey towards self-discovery and personal growth.
What you will learn

Personality development is a hot topic at some point for almost anyone who’s going through life. When you enter “personality assessment” into Google, you’re flooded with offers. But which one will truly help you get to where you want to go?

Two tools are particularly interesting when it comes to becoming your best self. The Enneagram and CliftonStrengths. While the Enneagram delves into personality types and motivations, CliftonStrengths focuses on identifying and leveraging innate talents. 

Let’s explore the differences and similarities between these two powerful frameworks to determine which one might be the key to unlocking your fullest potential.

What are the 5 main differences between the Enneagram and CliftonStrengths?

CliftonStrengths vs. Enneagram - Personality Development through different lenses

The Enneagram and the CliftonStrengths personality model are two distinct frameworks used to understand personality, each with its own approach and focus. Here are five main differences between them:

  1. Focus on Personality vs. Strengths: The Enneagram primarily explores personality types, motivations, and behavioral patterns, emphasizing why individuals think, feel, and act in certain ways. On the other hand, Clifton Strengths identifies and focuses on individuals’ innate talents and strengths, highlighting what individuals naturally do best.

  1. Number of Categories: The Enneagram categorizes individuals into nine distinct personality types, each with its own set of core fears, desires, and motivations. In contrast, Clifton Strengths assesses individuals across 34 unique talent themes, providing a more nuanced understanding of individual strengths.

  1. Rooted in Different Theories: The Enneagram traces its origins to ancient spiritual traditions and modern psychological theories, blending elements of both to explain personality dynamics. Clifton Strengths, developed by Gallup, is rooted in positive psychology and emphasizes the importance of focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses.

  1. Application in Personal and Professional Settings: While both tools can be applied in various contexts, the Enneagram is often used for personal growth, relationships, and spiritual development. Clifton Strengths, on the other hand, is widely utilized in workplace settings for talent management, team building, leadership development, and career planning.

  1. Approach to Development: The Enneagram encourages individuals to explore and understand their core fears, desires, and motivations as a pathway to personal growth and transformation. Clifton Strengths, on the other hand, advocates for a strengths-based approach to development, emphasizing the importance of leveraging and developing innate talents to achieve success and fulfillment.

While both tools have their benefits, depending on your personal goal and mission you may find one or the other more useful. 

Let’s dive into both systems and take a closer look at how they work, what they can do for you, and what they can help you achieve.

What is the Enneagram and how does it work?

How to unlock your potential with the Enneagram.

The Enneagram is a personality system that categorizes individuals into nine distinct types, each representing a set of core motivations, fears, and desires. Unlike many other personality frameworks, the Enneagram focuses not just on behavior but on underlying motivations that drive behavior. A short summary of each type can help you get a better feel for the system itself.

The Enneagram is for you if you seek a deeper understanding of yourself and others. Whether you’re really into personal development, want to enhance or better navigate your relationships, or are in the field of counseling people and giving life coaching. 

Ultimately, the Enneagram is for anyone curious about human nature, who wants to explore the complexities of personality. It can be a valuable tool for navigating life’s challenges and unlocking your full potential.

We’ve also compiled a very detailed overview of the Enneagram in this article. 

What are the benefits of the Enneagram?

One of the primary benefits of the Enneagram is its depth of insight into the human psyche. By understanding our core motivations and fears, we can gain clarity on why we behave the way we do and begin to recognize patterns that may be holding us back. This awareness can foster personal growth, improve relationships, and lead to greater self-acceptance and compassion.

  1. Deep Self-Understanding: Gain insights into your core motivations, fears, and desires.
  2. Enhanced Relationships: Improve communication and empathy by understanding others’ perspectives.
  3. Personal Growth: Recognize patterns of behavior and develop strategies for self-improvement.
  4. Spiritual Development: Explore spiritual aspects of personality and transcend ego-driven patterns.
  5. Holistic Approach: Embrace the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit in personal development.

How do I find an accurate Enneagram test?

While there are many Enneagram tests available online, it’s essential to choose one that is reputable and well-regarded. Look for tests that provide detailed descriptions of each type and take into account the complexity and nuance of the Enneagram system. With Personality Path’s assessment, you get a detailed and reliable result. We offer a widely respected test that many find helpful in identifying their type and starting their growth journey. You can get started here.

What is CliftonStrengths and how does it work?

The Clifton Strengths assessment, formerly known as StrengthsFinder, is a popular tool that helps you discover and understand your natural talents and strengths. It was developed by Gallup and is rooted in positive psychology. It focuses on identifying what individuals do best rather than dwelling on weaknesses. Taking the test on the official Gallup website is a little pricey, however.

Here’s how it generally works:

  1. You Take the Assessment: Answer a series of questions designed to reveal your natural patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving. The assessment usually takes around 30-45 minutes to complete.

  1. Receive Your Top Strengths: After completing the assessment, you receive a report outlining your top five strengths from a list of 34 identified themes. These strengths are ranked in order of dominance.

  1. Understand Your Strengths: With the help of the report, you can gain insights into how their top strengths manifest in different areas of their lives, such as work, relationships, and personal development.

  1. Application: Armed with this knowledge, individuals can leverage their strengths to achieve their goals, improve performance, enhance relationships, and navigate challenges more effectively.

The Clifton Strengths assessment emphasizes the idea that everyone can achieve greater success and satisfaction by focusing on and developing their natural talents rather than trying to fix their weaknesses. It’s widely used in various settings, including workplaces, educational institutions, and personal development programs.

Who is the CliftonStrengths assessment for?

The Clifton Strengths assessment is beneficial for anyone, really, who is interested in personal and professional development. It does have value in both areas, but is most suitable for:

Teams and Organizations: Employers, managers, and team leaders who want to improve team dynamics, enhance employee engagement, and maximize individual and collective performance.

Educators and Students: Teachers, professors, and students who want to leverage strengths to improve learning outcomes, enhance collaboration, and foster personal growth.

Coaches and Consultants: Professionals in coaching, counseling, human resources, and organizational development who use strengths-based approaches to help clients achieve their goals and unlock their full potential.

The assessment can be valuable for people at various stages of life and/or their careers, from high school students exploring career options to seasoned professionals seeking to optimize their performance and fulfillment in the workplace.

What are the benefits of the CliftonStrengths model?

The Clifton Strengths model empowers individuals, teams, and organizations to maximize their potential, achieve greater success, and thrive in both personal and professional domains. This can include benefits in the following areas of your life:

  1. Self-awareness: Understand your unique talents.
  2. Improved Relationships: Enhance teamwork and communication.
  3. Career Success: Align strengths with roles for success.
  4. Leadership Development: Lead effectively and inspire others.
  5. Resilience and Well-being: Foster resilience and positive growth.

Where can I take CliftonStrengths assessment?

You can take the Clifton Strengths assessment on the official Gallup website or through certified coaches and consultants who are authorized to administer the assessment. Some organizations and educational institutions may offer the assessment to their employees or students as part of personal or professional development programs.

We’ve compiled a list of the best personality tests and where to take them online here.

Which personality test is right for me?

Ultimately, the choice between the Enneagram and Clifton Strengths (or any other personality test) depends on your personal preferences and goals. If you’re drawn to understanding deeper motivations and underlying fears, the Enneagram may be a better fit. If you’re more interested in practical applications and behavioral tendencies, Clifton Strengths could be more suitable. Some individuals find value in exploring both systems to gain a more comprehensive understanding of themselves and others.

What do the results of both tests tell you?

The results of both Clifton Strengths and the Enneagram provide valuable insights into different aspects of an individual’s personality and behavior.

Clifton Strengths offers you:

Top Strengths: Clifton Strengths identifies an individual’s top talent themes from a list of 34 options. These strengths represent areas where the individual naturally excels and can perform at their best.

Insights into Strengths: The results offer detailed insights into how each strength manifests in various aspects of the individual’s life, including work, relationships, and personal development.

Actionable Strategies: Clifton Strengths provides actionable strategies for leveraging and developing each strength to enhance performance, achieve goals, and increase overall satisfaction and fulfillment.

The Enneagram helps you grow with:

Your distinct Personality Type: The Enneagram categorizes individuals into one of nine personality types, each with its own set of core fears, desires, motivations, and behavioral patterns.

Understanding Your Motivations: The results shed light on why individuals think, feel, and act in certain ways, providing a deeper understanding of their underlying motivations and drivers.

Pointing out Areas and a Path for Growth: The Enneagram highlights areas for personal growth and development by revealing both the strengths and challenges associated with each personality type.

Enhancing Relationship Dynamics: It also explores how individuals of different personality types interact and relate to one another, offering insights into relationship dynamics and potential areas of conflict or harmony.

Overall, both Clifton Strengths and the Enneagram results contribute to a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s personality, strengths, motivations, and areas for growth. 

They serve as valuable tools for self-awareness, personal development, and building more fulfilling relationships, both personally and professionally. Which test is the right one for you depends on how practical you want to get (go with the Enneagram to do the work), or which area of growth you want to tackle (if you want to learn about how to advance your career, go with Clifton Strengths).

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